Is the Lead Enough in Doctor Aphra 9?

by Ryan Desaulniers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When Doctor Chelli Aphra came onto the pages of Star Wars comics, the character intrigued me. Anyone who can be Vader’s servant and still walk out alive must be a worthwhile addition to the universe, and her rivalry with Leia in the “Rebel Jail” storyline cemented her for me as one to watch. But as we move through her solo title, I’m beginning to wonder how much faith is being placed in her character to carry this series without other big name-stays in the SW canon. Continue reading

Kill Or Be Killed 10: Discussion

By Ryan Desaulniers and Drew Baumgartner

Kill or Be Killed 10

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan D: Maybe you were one of those people, like I was, who trudged through all six seasons of the TV series LOST, debating what was really going on underneath the framework narrative, listening to countless fan theories and devising your own. Perhaps the most popular of these theories was that the characters in the show were all in Purgatory, which show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse refuted until they were blue in the face. The tricky thing about fan theories, though, is that when the finale of the series did include a narrative reveal revolving around a state of limbo, many audience members felt disappointed and off-put. They had assumed and hoped that the creators would have devised a finish more surprising than what every Joe and Jill had guessed back in season one, and that the clues given to support this ending were feints and decoys, not the actual resolution. In a similar way, the creative team of Kill or Be Killed, in its tenth issue, confronts the fan theory which has been on everyone’s mind since the first issue: the demonic force which serves as a catalyst for Dylan’s violent turn might by a by-product of a mental condition. While some readers might be anxious about exploring the most obvious of possible explanations of Dylan’s actions, the deftness of writer Ed Brubaker and his visual team of Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser keeps this pseudo-reveal exciting and the narrative fascinating. Continue reading

Cloudia and Rex 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell & Ryan Desaulniers

Cloudia and Rex 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

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Mark: Everyone in Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas, and Daniel Irizarri’s beautiful Cloudia and Rex 1 is just trying to survive. For the deities like Death, Hypnos, and Ala, the threat to their existence is very literal; their entire plane of existence is under attack from Seraphim sent by the High Waveform as it looks to consolidate power and become the one, true God. For 13 year-old Cloudia, her younger sister Rex, and her mom, the threat is more existential. A close knit family, their ties are beginning to fray in the aftermath of Cloudia’s father’s death. Continue reading

Proceeding(s) Forward in Daredevil 23

by Ryan Desaulniers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

A good villain pulls a particular thread of a hero’s core fabric; a great villain can challenge a hero on multiple levels — as Wilson Fisk so often has for Matt Murdock over the years. The Kingpin’s inclusion in the current DD arc, “Supreme,” struck me as a solid idea when it was dangled as last issue’s final reveal, but this issue shows that this great villain brings with him a multi-pronged approach to opposing Murdock which helps to progress this story on many levels. Continue reading

Nagging Consistency in Black Panther 15

By Ryan Desaulniers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

All comic series are, in their own way, their own brand, and with a brand comes the idea of offering consistency in the same way that you expect a Big Mac to taste like a Big Mac, no matter where the McDonald’s is. So Spider-Man makes quips and deals with great responsibility, Batman broods, Deadpool makes pop culture references. We expect it. And while creative team changes in long-running series may offer variety, some hallmarks generally remain.  Fifteen issues into the Ta-Nehisi Coates run of Black Panther, the consistencies are starting to wear on me as a reader. Continue reading

Art or Madness in Beautiful Canvas 1

by Ryan Desaulniers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The first words uttered in Beautiful Canvas 1, “You’re overthinking it”, are spoken to the main character, Lon Eisley, but I might be in the same boat. I can’t seem to make heads or tails of this number one. On the surface the story is simple: an assassin, Lon, botches a hit for sadistic billionaire Milla Albuquerque, and we watch how things fall apart for Eisley. However, there are so many elements in this title which seem arbitrary or haphazard. Continue reading

Jean Grey 3: Discussion

By Ryan Desaulniers and Ryan Mogge

This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan D: When one writes about comic books, due to the popular types of stories being told, the critical eye encounters Joseph Campbell’s template for “the hero’s journey.” This monomyth pervades the pages of superhero titles, and seems even more prevalent in solo runs of characters due to the ease of accessibility inherent to that narrative. In Jean Grey, however, Dennis Hopeless and his creative team use a different kind of literary precedent — that of the Bildungsroman –– to tell the story of the young Jean as she gears up to meet the looming threat of the Phoenix. The Bildungsroman is a novel of formation or education with the psychological and moral development of the protagonist as the crux of the narrative, along the lines of Ponyboy in The Outsiders or Marji in PersopolisJean Grey 3 continues that trend of Jean moving painfully towards development and maturity as she learns a lesson in the company of “Marvel’s First Mutant,” Namor. Continue reading

Wants, Needs, and Given Circumstances in The Wild Storm 5

by Ryan Desaulniers

Wild Storm 5

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In a world as complicated as this one, replete with conspiracies between corporations, technology theft, aliens living among us puny humans, and a gigantic cast of characters, it helps to find ways to keep things simple. In The Wild Storm 5, writer Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt introduce many new, somewhat confusing elements to the narrative, but underscore these revelations with a firm grounding in characters’ wants and needs. Continue reading

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Ryan Desaulniers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan M.: How much background do you need to enjoy a single issue of an on-going serial? There is an argument that the answer is none. Most of us start out by just diving in, checking things out and then heading to Wikipedia or a very knowledgeable friend to help fill in the cracks. The serialized narrative is a moving train, you catch it when you can, and see what it has to offer. This can be one of the format’s strengths, giving the reader a feeling of discovery by entering a rich established world. You may have questions that aren’t answered or relationship dynamics you can’t understand, but you are seeing into a fictional world that is fully realized. It’s one of the reasons that origin stories can feel plodding. They are explaining why things are rather than showing what they become. In Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man 1, Chip Zdarsky balances out that sense of history by giving the story a day-in-the-life feel with a few big turns that make it clear that a bigger story is evolving. Continue reading

Finding a Balance in The Black Monday Murders 6

by Ryan Desaulniers

Black Monday Murders 6

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If you know Jonathan Hickman’s past work, you know he can get…complicated. Reading The Black Monday Murders 1-5 to catch up for last month’s full conversation proved a deep dive into an intricate world full of ancient conspiracy theories, old money, the occult, convoluted machinations, epistolary inserts, and shadow-soaked boardroom conversations. This issue returns to show some of the fallout of the recent occurrences and again displays Hickman and artist Tomm Coker’s tightrope walk approach to action, exposition, and reaction. Continue reading